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T-Day has arrived!

Tablet day is here.  

Each year at the start of September, there's a massive trade show in Berlin called IFA. (It stands for Internationale Funkausstellung - International Radio trade show) It's one of the biggest - and certainly amongst the most important - in the gadget calendar.

This is because gadget sales are very much greater around Christmas and anyone wanting to sell big at Christmas really has to get their goods to market by late October, which means showing them off to the trade at about this time of year.

Market Trends - 2012

Platforms running Personal Computing

Few of us remember back to the time when Windows and Intel were establishing a very unhealthy quasi-monopoly of personal computing - shown in blue on the graphic. But it's clear that that market dominance is suddenly in serious decline.
Source: BI Chart of the Day

Here is a brief history of recent tablet market trends - just eight points:

  1. Sales of slates overall have forged ahead over the last twelve months but the big American PC builders - HP and Dell - really have struggled to keep up. Few people now question that there is a big change in personal computing under way.
  2. Android is taking a clear lead as a smartphone platform but on tablets it has not done so well. Although it is available on hundreds of different slates and is gradually gaining market share, the two almost identical-looking iPads still sell more than all the Android tslates put together. Other platforms, like the QNX running on the BlackBerry Playbook, have lost share radically. At the moment it's a two horse race.
  3. The first proper tablet version of Windows is still just around the corner with the Microsoft Surface touted as the first device to demonstrate this new system. But with each day that passes without the Surface actually surfacing and withourt us being able to get our hands on it, the chances of Microsoft making big sales over Christmas are diminishing.Jelly Bean
  4. The newest "buttery smooth" version of Android - called Jelly Bean or 4.1 - has now been released for use by any manufacturer, including the many white box manufacturers in China and now that this genie is out of the bottle the patent battles, sparring over the tiniest of features between the big brand manufacturers - particularly Apple and Samsung - look like an increasingly pointless exercise. There are alternative flavours of Android waiting in the wings and it won't be possible, now, to remove any significant feature from the mainstream version of the platform.
  5. As hardware - battery life, processor speed and the provision of storage -  has improved significantly, products are instead starting to try and differentiate themselves through their ecosystems, like the range of films, books and apps supporting the Amazon Kindle Fire which is now finally available in the UK.
  6. The resistive touchscreens of the early days are mostly gone now, replaced on almost every branded product with the much more sensitive capacitive system. The lightest touch gets a response now - no more need to press on the screen hard with your finger and a bit of stick.
  7. At the same time, Samsung's tiny Galaxy Note, now joined it's bigger brother, the Note 10.1, have introduced the combination of a capacitive screen which works properly with your finger complimented by a new generation of stylus which can be used for more detailed work like drawing or handwriting. The larger Note also lets you move data between two apps that you can see side by side on the screen.
  8. While the iPad has remained the same physical size all along, other slate PCs range from the Galaxy Note which at 5.3" is just bigger than a mobile phone, right up to the occasional screen as large as 11.6" diagonally. While the larger screens seem to generate little interest, the tiny ones have sold pretty well and spawned the new category of "phaplet" to describe something between a smartphone and a tablet. Persistent rumours that a mini version of the iPad will be arriving soon have so far come to nothing.



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